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Newt Gingrich’s faith journey: How a thrice-married Catholic became an evangelical darling
Newt Gingrich has spent time as a Lutheran, a Baptist and a Roman Catholic.
December 10th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Newt Gingrich’s faith journey: How a thrice-married Catholic became an evangelical darling

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of stories looking at the faith of the leading 2012 presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. We also profiled the faith journey of Herman Cain before he suspended his campaign.

(CNN) - There’s an e-mail war raging among some of the nation’s leading evangelicals over whether Newt Gingrich has repented enough for his sins to be president.

One recent skirmish was set off by an open letter urging Gingrich to give a major speech confronting his perceived moral stumbles, including an affair with his third wife, Callista, while married to No. 2.

“You need to make it as clear as you possibly can that you deeply regret your past actions and that you do understand the anguish and suffering they caused others, including your former spouses,” Richard Land, public policy chief for the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote.

Land urged Gingrich to make a public promise “that there will be no moral scandals in a Gingrich White House.”

Rather than galvanizing the faithful, however, Land’s letter provoked an outcry from a handful of evangelical leaders who argued Gingrich has repented enough and deserves forgiveness.

On an e-mail thread among conservative Christian heavyweights, Jerry Falwell Jr. invoked the biblical story of a woman of ill repute who met Jesus at a well. Though the woman had been married five times, Jesus forgave her.

“The woman at the well was fortunate she encountered Jesus that day instead of some of our evangelical brethren,” the Liberty University president wrote, in an apparent swipe at Land.

On the same e-mail chain, which CNN obtained from a conservative activist, prominent Atlanta preacher Richard Lee said the nation’s evangelicals needed to support Gingrich.

Lee called Gingrich “the only forceful Christian candidate who can at this point be elected and cleanse the White House next November.”

The evangelical tussling over Gingrich says a lot about the fractured state of the Republican Party less than a month before the Iowa caucuses officially usher in the 2012 race for the White House.

The sight of influential evangelicals rallying around Gingrich, a Catholic with serious “values” baggage, speaks to the huge political vulnerability of Mitt Romney, who was the perceived GOP front-runner until recent polls put Gingrich at the front of the pack.

Gingrich speaking at the April 2011 National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in D.C.

Whether because of Romney’s past liberalism on gay rights and abortion or because of his Mormon faith, many of the evangelical Christians who make up the Republican base just don’t like him.

They’ve been looking for an alternative, by turns telling pollsters of their support for Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, then Herman Cain. One by one, they’ve dropped in the polls, or out of the race altogether. Now it’s Gingrich’s turn in the spotlight.

But the argument over Gingrich’s personal life also raises fundamental questions about the candidate himself and his readiness for the nation’s highest office.

Just how much has Gingrich changed since his days as a volatile and philandering House speaker? Does he have the character to be president? And, at least for many of the evangelical voters who will dominate the early primaries: Is he a true believer?

Faith by geography

Gingrich has identified with different branches of Christianity that mirror his surroundings at different stages of life.

Born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, an area settled by the largely Lutheran Pennsylvania Dutch, Gingrich was the son of a Lutheran mom and a Pennsylvania Dutch stepfather who adopted him.

Attending college at Atlanta’s Emory University and grad school at Tulane University in New Orleans, Gingrich became a Southern Baptist.

And as a creature of Washington, where Gingrich’s wife sings in a Catholic choir and where many prominent conservative Republicans have converted to Catholicism in the last decade, Gingrich joined the Catholic fold in 2009.

“I think that was all part of his pilgrimage,” says Ike Reighard, who was Gingrich’s pastor in Atlanta for nearly 20 years. “Whatever is the dominant religion in the region he was in, that was his progression... He was always super inquisitive, searching for deeper meaning.”

Gingrich’s stepdad was an army officer, making for a peripatetic family life that included stretches spent at military bases in Europe and at Fort Benning, Georgia, situated in the heart of the Bible Belt.

Gingrich, who declined interview requests for this story, was raised largely by his maternal grandmother, a devout Lutheran who, he has said, “taught me my most basic lessons about God and Satan.”

But Gingrich left his childhood denomination through an immersion baptism at the Saint Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans while at Tulane, where he was pursuing a Ph.D. in European history.

In a pattern that would last a lifetime, studying religion’s role in history and politics moved Gingrich to deepen his own faith.

Saint Charles Avenue’s pastor, G. Avery Lee, said Gingrich wasn’t a member of any church when the two first met.

“He said that in his study of political theory, he noted how much influence the church had had … and asked if I could explain,” Lee wrote in a 1994 letter to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, describing his first encounter with Gingrich.

Lee and Gingrich grew close, with the pastor eventually baptizing Gingrich even though his church took “a liberal approach to both theology and sociology.”

“It has been suggested by some that in baptizing him, I didn't hold him under long enough,” Wrote Lee, who died in 2009, in apparent reference to Gingrich’s conservative politics.

But Gingrich was more liberal back then, including on questions of separation of church and state.

“As a college student at Emory when the Supreme Court ruled that prayer was unconstitutional … I didn't notice it,” he said in a 2009 interview. “As a graduate student at Tulane I probably would have said it's a good decision.”

‘I don’t think his faith was the driving force’

After Tulane, Gingrich took a job as a history professor outside Atlanta and almost immediately began running for Congress, losing two races in the mid-’70s.

Around that time he joined New Hope Baptist Church, a 100-year old congregation south of Atlanta where Ike Reighard had recently arrived as the senior pastor.

“He had just lost for the second time and he came in and said, ‘I need your help,’” says Reighard. “I said, ‘What did you want to do in politics?’ He said he wanted to be speaker of the House.”

Gingrich won his next race for Congress in 1978. That year also marked the birth of the modern Christian Right.

The movement started in opposition to an Internal Revenue Service campaign under then-President Jimmy Carter to crack down on private schools resisting court-ordered desegregation.

Word of the campaign provoked fear and outrage among evangelical schools. Jerry Falwell joined the successful effort to thwart the IRS initiative and founded the Moral Majority the following year, in 1979. The group’s focus on fighting abortion and gay rights set the Christian Right agenda for decades to come.

Gingrich, for his part, was not considered part of the new wave of proud Christian Right warriors in Congress, some of whom were swept into power in 1980 on President Ronald Reagan’s coattails and enthusiastically blended their religious faith and politics.

For Gingrich, “I don’t think faith was the driving force,” says Reighard. “He realized that you have to look at issues and they can’t always be driven by your personal views and your religious values.”

“I heard a lot of times that people say evangelicals are one-issue people, all about abortion,” Reighard says. “But that’s not true with Gingrich. Education was important for him. Health care was important. The economy was important.”

Indeed, when Gingrich launched the Conservative Opportunity Society, an influential House caucus, in 1983, he focused on fiscal issues and practical electoral politics.

And yet Gingrich was an early ally of the budding Christian Right, even if he wasn’t a card-carrying member.

Ralph Reed, who would go on to lead the Christian Coalition, remembers watching as a libertarian activist advocating for gay rights and abortion rights challenged Gingrich at an early 1980s College Republicans breakfast.

“Newt pushed back hard,” Reed remembers. “It was clearly a position of intellectual conviction. I wasn’t yet a committed Christian and I remember finding that pretty remarkable, that Newt didn’t try to pacify this guy. He said, ‘No, you’re wrong.’”

Gingrich speaking at a 1987 news conference.

The future House speaker also stayed active at New Hope Baptist Church, which was quickly growing from sleepy country congregation to suburban Atlanta megachurch, even as he spent most of his time in Washington. When Reighard’s wife died during childbirth, Gingrich was on the phone with him while the pastor was still at the hospital.

“He was always there on Sunday mornings,” says Reighard, recalling Gingrich’s House years. “And the other thing he was always great at doing was town-hall-type meetings and potluck dinners. He was a grassroots person. There’s no telling how many of those meals I prayed at.”

Christian coalitions

But a lot of those town halls were more political than religious. Televangelist Pat Robertson launched the Christian Coalition in the early 1990s, and the group organized events around Georgia aimed at getting conservative evangelicals more involved in elections.

Gingrich, who counted himself an evangelical, expressed keen interest in the coalition’s work. But he seemed to be operating less as a pious Christian, and more as a strategist looking for ways the GOP could win the House of Representatives.

“We didn’t get into theological conversations that much,” says Patrick Gartland, executive director of the Georgia Christian Coalition in the early 1990s. “I was a grassroots numbers person. I loved the intricacies of grassroots, and he did, too, and he understood it.”

Unlike the Moral Majority in the 1980s, which was made up of pastors like Falwell, the Christian Coalition sought to mainstream the Christian Right by bringing in laypeople. The group’s local chapters were led by Christian business leaders, teachers and retirees, as opposed to pastors.

And Christian Coalition envisioned a big-tent religious conservatism that was as much about lowering taxes as it was about banning abortion.

For the broad-minded Gingrich, that vision was a perfect fit – especially after the Christian Coalition helped usher in the 1994 Republican Revolution, which put the House in GOP hands for the first time in 40 years.

The takeover catapulted Gingrich to speaker of the House, making him the country’s most powerful Republican. He vowed to pay attention to conservative Christians from his first day on the job, seeking to assuage evangelical activists who felt ignored by the Reagan administration after they’d worked hard for Reagan’s political campaigns.

“There was this dissatisfaction among evangelical leaders about [Reagan], and Newt said to me, ‘I’m not going to let that happen.’”

Best remembered for working with President Bill Clinton on fiscally focused deals like welfare reform and balancing the budget - and fiscal fights that led to a government shutdown - Gingrich also checked off major items on religious conservatives’ wish lists.

He brought a proposed constitutional amendment to allow school prayer up for a House vote. He presided over the adoption of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act – the first abortion restriction since Roe v. Wade – and the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids the federal government from recognizing gay marriage.

Speaker-elect Gingrich with then-wife Marianne and his mother Kathleen at a January 1995 Washington church service.

Yet some evangelical leaders who knew Gingrich fretted over his personal life. The hard-charging speaker displayed braggadocio and rough edges even to political allies and didn’t talk much about his own faith.

“There were a lot of conservative Christian leaders who really loved Newt but felt like he hadn’t really turned his life over to God,” says Reed.

Many of those leaders went nuclear over rumors about Gingrich’s 1998 affair with a young House aide named Callista Bisek, while he was married to his second wife, Marianne.

Theose rumors “would break my heart,” says Reighard, who counseled Gingrich and Marianne in the 1990s. “I always believed that Newt could be one of the great leaders in our country, an American version of Winston Churchill.”

Reborn a Catholic

More than a decade later, Gingrich is back in many evangelicals’ good graces, with polls showing him way out in front of Romney among evangelicals in Iowa, who accounted for 60% of caucus-goers four years ago.

What explains the turnaround?

One big factor is Gingrich’s self-described faith awakening since leaving Congress in 1998. A personal turning point was 2002, when a court ruling struck down the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools because of its “Under God” clause.

“That was the last straw,” Gingrich said in a 2009 interview with U.S. News & World Report. “And I said it’s time to challenge head-on secular domination in the West.”

Just as studying political history had led a 20-something Gingrich to the Saint Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, political developments like the Pledge ruling and other perceived attacks on religion sparked a round of soul-searching.

Though it was later struck down by the Supreme Court, the ruling led Gingrich to publish “Rediscovering God in America,” a faith-based walking tour of Washington’s key buildings and monuments.

For those close to him, the 2006 book reflected what Gingrich had been preaching for more than a decade: that religion played a key role in the nation’s founding.

“In the ’90s, he talked about this idea that power comes from God to the individual and is loaned to the state,” says Rick Tyler, Gingrich’s former spokesman. “Before that, the European model was that power came from God to the king, and [Gingrich] used to explain why that was corrupt and how Thomas Jefferson turned it on his head.”

By increasing his public attack on the secular “media-academic-legal elite” and promoting his God-infused take on American history, Gingrich was branded a culture warrior during the last decade, gaining appeal among conservative evangelicals.

Gingrich continued the courtship by regularly appearing before audiences of hundreds of evangelical pastors to talk about God, history and politics.

Gingrich delivers the Liberty University commencement address in 2007 following Jerry Falwell

“There’s no question there’s been an evolution in his thinking and speaking and writing on America’s religious heritage, which has become a much bigger part of his lexicon,” says Reed, who leads the Faith and Freedom Coalition and is not endorsing any presidential candidates.

“He’s clearly found his voice on social issues, and less than 30 days from the Iowa caucuses the timing couldn’t be better.”

Gingrich further strengthened ties to grassroots evangelicals in 2009, launching a group aimed at bringing together religious and economic conservatives.

The organization, Renewing American Leadership, poured $150,000 into a successful Iowa campaign to unseat judges who had legalized gay marriage in the state. Many of the Iowa activists who led that 2010 campaign are now bullish on Gingrich.

Admitting to an affair also helped.

At a closed-door meeting with the nation’s top Christian Right leaders ahead of the 2008 election, Gingrich was asked about reports he’d been having an affair while leading the impeachment drive against Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

The former speaker owned up to the affair and said it marked one the most shameful periods of his life, a time in which he was “alienated from God,” according to a participant at the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Though he didn’t run for president in 2008, Gingrich went on James Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio show to admit the affair to the evangelical icon and a national audience: “There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards.”

Gingrich told listeners he’d since turned "to God to receive forgiveness and to receive mercy."

For many evangelicals, the admission and penitent tone struck a chord.

“It all depends on whether Newt has been rewired, in the theological sense of being born again,” says David Lane, an influential evangelical activist who is in regular contact with Gingrich.

“I was one of the wildest men who ever lived, loved women, wine and song, and I came to Christ,” Lane says. “I’m not perfect, but I read the Bible seven days a week. Is Newt a new man? I think he is. There’s something different about him.”

One difference is that, for the last two years, Gingrich has been an active Roman Catholic. He has described his conversion as a decade-long process inspired by Callista, who sings with a choir at the country’s largest Catholic church, Washington’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Gingrich has said that years of attending Mass there rubbed off on him, with Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 visit providing the final impetus to conversion.

Gingrich was especially drawn to the church’s millennia-long history and intellectualism. Discussing one of his visits to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Gingrich has said, “You stand there and you think, this is where St. Peter was crucified. This is where Paul preached.

“You think to yourself, 2,000 years ago the Apostles set out to create a worldwide movement by witnessing to the historic truth they had experienced,” Gingrich said in 2009. “And there it is.”

As opposed to being a letdown to evangelical leaders, Gingrich’s conversion away from evangelical Christianity was received as something like a born-again experience.

“Prior to that, he was a sloppy Baptist who didn’t have a clue about what he believed,” says an evangelical activist who is close to Gingrich. “When he converted, he went through Catechism and had to get his faith straight. It took some of the sloppiness out.”

But Gingrich still has to convince some religious leaders he has straightened out morally.

In his letter to Gingrich urging a speech about his marital history, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Land told Gingrich to emphasize his own religious narrative.

“I know something of your faith journey over the past 20 years,” Land wrote. “Do not hesitate to weave that into your speech to the degree that you are comfortable doing so. It will always resonate with evangelical Christians.”

If polls are to be believed, the story of Gingrich’s journey is resonating already.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Catholic Church • Lutheran • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Pope Benedict XVI • Vatican

soundoff (1,901 Responses)
  1. Pritka

    No mere candidate has an influence on God's control of this country. Do you think that God is sitting back and waiting for permission to enter the fray? Just one more example of religious fanaticism...you want your ideas about God to permeate everyone's life and you are anticipating this power with alacrity. You call yourselves loving Christians but you are quick to judge and quick to punish those that would deny you power in this country. You have no place in a true Democracy. Religious fanaticism belongs to the Middle East whose people live and think by the Koran. The majority of educated hard working Americans want no part of you.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • George

      "quick to punish those that would deny you power in this country"

      If we have no power, how can we punish anyone? You need to be God or have power to punish anyone. And we do believe in the democratic process, and it is exactly what we are using.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Aw, poor George. It's just him and his gang plus the omnipotent creator of the universe vs those mean secular people.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What I find laughable is George's belief that God needs a president to "bring this country back" to Him.

      How does an omnipotent being find itself in need of some mortal to do its work?

      December 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  2. twiddly

    Ooh wait, I have this feeling, I think god is trying to tell me something, maybe who should be the republican nominee,
    wait... wait... oh, never mind, just flatulence.

    On the other hand...

    December 11, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  3. RobAstro

    Newt is the axis of evil! Just listen to his ignorant foreign policies.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  4. CuddyDan

    The other day God told me that he really wants Richard Land and all the other people who anointed themselves to just shut up!

    December 11, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  5. George

    Hard questions that need to be put to Newt:

    1. Would he not just support, but would he fight for, a federal Marriage Amendment?
    2. Would he support and fight for a Christian Amendment officially establishing America as a Christian country?
    3. Would he get rid of Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, and Medicaid once and for all?
    4. What exactly is the role of God in his life?
    5. Would he defund the Department of Education which is guilty of supporting the teaching of evolution?
    6. Would he defund NPR and all publicly-supported media that have become riddled with liberals and atheists?
    7. Would he appoint only pro-life justices to the Supreme Court?
    8. Would he ban the sale of oral contraceptives that abort a fertilized egg?

    December 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Regardless of what his mouth says, his answers in actions would be: no, no, no, nothing much, no, maybe a little, no and no.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • George

      Oh, yes, I forgot an important one:

      9. Would he defend Israel and attack Iran?

      December 11, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • CuddyDan

      George, you need to pray for forgiveness and tolerance.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I think George has seen one too many episodes of "Leave It To Beaver."

      George, why don't you just advocate recreating Israel at the time of your alledged jesus in the USA?

      December 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • SimonSed

      George, those 8 questions in the positive are mostly (OK, not entirely) diametrically opposite to where America appears to be headed. Maybe you realize that.

      At least you understand that America isn't a Christian nation at present, though. Every day, it becomes less Christian-dominated, although the extreme Christians seem to be shrieking louder -maybe as as their pond gets smaller and smaller.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • John Richardson

      For the last two (even if you gave them one number), the answers are: sort of and probably not.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Pritka

      If he is elected you had better hope the answer is no to all of that because I for one would become an insurgent in my own country.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • pewpew

      wow that reads like a wish list for batsh!t crazy

      December 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      You forgot one: Would he support the appointment of an Ayatollah to pass judgement on who is "righteous" enough to run for office?

      December 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • George

      @Pritka

      "If he is elected you had better hope the answer is no to all of that because I for one would become an insurgent in my own country."

      So you don't get your way and you threaten revolution? What about all of us Christians who have been trampled all these years? We believe in the democratic process to choose out leaders and to effect change. Tough that you do not. Maybe you would be better off in communist China.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • George

      @SimonSed

      "At least you understand that America isn't a Christian nation at present, though."

      No, America is a Christian nation. I just want to remove all doubt from the minds of liberals and atheists.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      George's delusion knows no bounds. It is fascinating to watch his evolution to becoming a Newter though.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nah. George is a troll. He doesn't even believe the crap he's typing. He's just another iteration of Anna Banana, posting over-the-top rhetoric to get a reaction. He's probably an atheist who is trying to make evangelical Christians look even more ridiculous than they already do.

      December 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  6. Julie

    Who decided that You judgmental people can decide who has repented enough? Here's a news flash for you! Nobody cares what you think. Just exercise your vote and shut up!

    December 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • John Richardson

      They can exercise their free speech rights, too, eh?

      December 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • MaryE

      Couldn't have put it better. It's not up to YOU who has repented or hasn't repented. When did you take over God's job?

      December 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  7. Ray Moon

    I know from my past experience that we all make mistakes and if we are smart we change our ways.I have my wife has.I believe Newt has & like everyone took a chance on Obama I will change my Vote to Newt this Election

    December 11, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • SimonSed

      Why would you believe Newt, who is now on three strikes plus, over someone who has none against them Fooled you once, fooled you twice, fooled you three times. Gullible much? Newt's laughing all the way to the $30 milion plus in the bank too, at your expense.

      Not to even get into the 80-plus ethics investigations on Newt. Weird that you or anyone else would put trust in the guy.

      Fortunately, Newt is pretty much unelectable. Get ready for another Obama term.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  8. 21k

    can any believers explain why god, who created the entire universe and creates all people, allowed hitler to murder so many millions before a democrat (some would say socialist) president intervened to stop him?

    December 11, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Ray Moon

      Maybe he need the Jewish Vote & decided he better jump in with both feet or he might be Speaking German

      December 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • SimonSed

      To be fair, our country's war involvement against Hitler came many months into WWII. Churchill and others deserve more credit than our guy, for intervening first. No question we were essential to the win though. We just can't claim to have been the interveners, at least not first.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  9. Pamela Haley Design

    Blah Blah Blah. Boring. Long. Boring. Baby Goose 2012. He's downy right with Quakers.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  10. Rajiv Shaw

    Very hypocritical of the Evangelists. How can they even think of absolution!

    December 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  11. jag

    It bothers me not rather the candidate to be the Republican nominee is a Christian. My beef with him is that he is not a man of character. I don't trust a word he says. He is and always will be an opportunist. This is a harsh thing to say but, in his mind, Newt will always be first.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  12. Hans Rumland

    Why do believers in the bible complain about Gingrich's divorces? If they take their bible literal, they believe themselves to be followers of Jesus, then they should read and obey Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. "
    Better yet, stay out of politics!

    December 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  13. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    Must be nice to say I'm so sorry and all is forgiven! Not once but twice Newt pulled this nonsense on his wives! Penance takes years and years of positives to clear up wrong doing. Taking 35 millions working for health care, and more from Freddie Mac??? That is immoral also Mr. Newt! Easy to see why republicans are against the federal health care program.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  14. cligie1

    I do not stand in judgement of his sins. What bothers me is that he went from being an evangelical Christian to becoming a Catholic just to please his wife, who apparently rules over him in every way. He knew the Word of God so he knew that the Catholic Church stands in contradiction of God's Word in soooooo many ways when he made that choice. He chose between God and pleasing Calista. I was raised as a Catholic and was horrified when I began studying the Bible and holding it up to what the Catholic Church teaches. I think Gingrich is a chameleon. Unfortunately, he may be the only choice we will get to run against the Obamanation.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • 21k

      wait a minute. in 2002, the current pope wrote that only catholicism is the one true religion. he wrote that while other religions had some good things, they were not the true faith, and their followers were not going to get into heaven. so newtie-boy converted to the one true faith. he left a religion that was lacking. go ahead look it up.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  15. 21k

    gingrich failed to pay child support after his first divorce. his local church stepped in to help support his family that he abandoned for wife #2. what a great leader he'll be.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  16. Muneef

    What about what is said here;

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw7eVwH5RuY&w=640&h=360]

    December 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Hey, I drink Crystal Lite! Does that make me a Crystal Lite Being?

      December 11, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  17. pumpkinseeds

    This has got to be among the best quotes of all time.

    "As an American I am not so shocked that Obama was given The Nobel Peace Prize without any accomplishments to his name, because America gave him the White House based on the same credentials."

    ~Newt Gingrich

    December 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And upon what credentials should we give Newt the same honor?

      December 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  18. George

    The only question we must ask is whether a candidate will put God back in control of this country. I have my doubts about Gingrich on this.

    December 11, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • chris

      God is not supposed to be in control of this country. You obviously missed history class, where they showed god in control of armys.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Benny

      You should have really serious doubt. There's no god, so nothing for Newt or anyone else to put back.

      Thanks for coming out, though. Make sure you click on ads before you go. CNN needs to make a buck.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • 21k

      i doubt it also. but only because you can't put a mythological figure in charge of anything. how about putting logic and reason back in charge? that might just work.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      We can only hope, 'cause prayer is pointless, that the next president does not actually suffer from God Delusion – that they merely remain hypocrites that will say anything to get the religious vote.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  19. Pditty

    How arrogant are you people. Who are you to judge if this man is right with God and his sins. Only God knows how repentant he is. This whole article and most of these comments are based in blasphemy. Another negative article about a conservative from CNN. Surprise?

    December 11, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • George

      I don't judge him. I just question his religious credentials.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I question your mental health, Georgie.

      December 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  20. steven harnack

    "What ever the dominant religion was in his topographical area....", Makes him a shameless opportunist to anybody who knows anything about him. I challenge anyone to tell me what Gingrich has ever DONE to make anyone think that he is a christian/

    December 11, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.